Saturday, 8 January 2011
Some time in the 10 or so years I've known Johnny he became a brother to me. He made me mad and he made me happy just like a brother would. When I tried to quantify how I knew Johnny I thought I'd try equate it to how many miles we rode together. Within less than a minute I'd tallied well into the thousands and that doesn't include going out for local jaunts. We rode in England, Holland and France and we made the sort of friends you can only make by riding together. And these friends all speak of Johnny with the greatest love and the highest respect.
When I first knew him he argued that fast bikes were better than old bikes because you could live life at the edge at 120 miles an hour. I argued back that old bikes were better than fast bikes because you could find the same edge he spoke about at about 50 miles an hour. Soon enough we both had old Harleys and we spent many miles lurching and bouncing through corners on bikes that barked and farted as they eventually got to 60mph. We stood outside his garage smoking, drinking good coffee and standing back from bikes to take a proper look at them. We could tell when a bike was built in a small shed and the builder never stepped back far enough to look at the bike. Johnny loved the engineering and mechanics of bikes, the fumes, the metal, the grease and the spark.
We would laugh til we cried on more occasions than I can remember following some lunacy or other at some party or other. He had a fantastic singing voice so we formed a couple of bands together. The best of them, the only one we ever gigged, lasted about 7 songs but what songs they were.
I'll remember Johnny in the taste of tobacco and coffee, I'll remember him in the smell of hot engines, I'll remember him in a specific exhaust note, I'll remember him in the heat of the camp fire and the grime of the road.
As spring makes the roads open out towards summer I will start to venture out on my bike and I will ride with Johnny in my heart and my mind.